Steven Madden Ltd., the New York footwear manufacturer, has hired financial adviser Bear Stearns for what acting chairman Charles Koppelman says is leadership in considering strategic alternatives, including buys and sells.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office charged Madden, the company's founder and ceo, with securities fraud and money laundering in June, alleging he assisted a penny-stock firm in manipulating public funds. Madden temporarily stepped down as chairman in reaction to the charges.
Koppelman insists the Bear Stearns hiring had nothing to do with the charges, but rather that the company wished to explore its options, looking for ways to increase shareholder value. Industry observers suspect the company may instead be preparing for Madden's defense. Some analysts, including Mitchel Kummetz at A.G. Edwards & Sons, predict the company will put itself up for sale, citing Tommy Hilfiger Corp., Stride Rite, Genesco, Maxwell Shoe and Nike as possible bidders. The company has a market value of around $97 million, but its stock price has dropped 33 percent since the day Madden was arrested.